Uzbekistan: Two human rights activists are subjected to torture

Two human rights activists were detained for 15 days in the basement of the police station of Pakhtakor District of Jizzakh region. Under torture, they were forced to withdraw from the public action aimed at the protection of constitutional rights.

From 1 to 10 December 2012 the human rights activists of the "Birdamlik" movement conducted a campaign dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Uzbekistan. They spread information among the population about the constitutional rights and freedoms. Human rights activists Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboeva of Jizzakh Region participated in the action.

Pictured: Nuriniso Kholboeva
and Saida Kurbanova
Saida Kurbanova was born on 31 December 1958, she is the Head of the Pahtakor District Department of Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), led by Talib Yakubov.

Nuriniso Kholboeva was born on 15 June 1967, she is a human rights activist and a member of the “Birdamlik” movement.

On 5 December 2012 several employees of the Pakhtakor District Police Department broke into human rights defender Saida Kurbanova’s home. In commanding tone and with threats of violence, the authorities demanded the human rights activist Kurbanova to withdraw from the public campaign to mark the 20th anniversary of Uzbekistan's Constitution and banned her to leave the house.
On 6 December 2012, in defiance of the police, Saida Kurbanova and her colleague Nuriniso Kholboeva continued to hand out the text of the Constitution of Uzbekistan in the city of Jizzakh.
On the same day, the Chairman of Pakhtakor Rural Citizens' Gathering Mr Tovboy Soliev came to Kurbanova’s house and said that the local Khokimiat (Administration) urgently requested a schedule of the electricity supply, indicating the time convenient to the public. [In recent years, in Uzbekistan, power cuts are often commonplace]. Said Kurbanova invited Nuriniso Kholboeva and the three of them went to carry out a survey of the residents and on the way, they stopped at the Café "Home Cooking" for a lunch.
When they were already in the café, Mahliyo (we were not able to determin her last name and occupation - Ed.), a friend of Soliev joined them. She drank a lot, and when fairly drunk, began offering vodka to Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboeva. In response to their refusal she splashed the vodka in their faces and began to shout at them loudly. Then the police from Pakhtakor District Department came and charged the human rights activists with disorderly conduct and took them into custody. Mahliyo and Tovboy Soliev by this time had disappeared.
On 6 December 2012 a hearing against Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboevoy took place at the Pakhtakor Criminal Court, which considered an administrative action under Article 183 of the Administrative Code of Uzbekistan (disorderly conduct). Human rights activists were sentenced to 15 days imprisonment and fined 179,000 soums, (90 U.S. dollars). Mahliyo participated in the hearing as a witness. Tovboy Soliev not appear. The accuse human rights activists did not have a legal representative. Their families learned of their whereabouts three days after their arrest.
For 15 days Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboeva were held in a small cellar at the Pakhtakor District Department of Internal Affairs of Jizzakh Region.

From the first to the last day they were questioned in the basement and in the office of Akmal Dzhahanov, the Deputy Chief of the Pahtakor Department of the Internal Affairs of Jizzakh Region. According to human rights activists, they were treated roughly, the Pakhtakor district police officers used obscene language and threats as follows: "We shall accuse your children of involvement in religious movements, and put them in jail," "Don’t you have anything better to do? Or do you need a man? No problem, we can put you among the 10 men, they will quickly comfort you", “If you do not stop your work, then we can quickly disfigure your face and shove a club into your anus”. They grabbed the women by the hair and beat their heads against the concrete wall; they were beaten in the abdomen and other parts of the body.

Under the threat of reprisals against them and their families the activists wrote a “pledge” to give up social activities and have agreed to cease their cooperation with the “Birdamlik” movement.
The relatives of the activists suspected that they were tortured, and came to the police station every day in order to achieve the liberation of women. The Major, Akmal Dzhahanov, the Deputy Chief of the Pahtakor Department of the Internal Affairs of Jizzakh Region did not hide his anger and threatened to deal not only with the detainees, but also with their families. He very rudely demanded Saida Kurbanova’a daughter in law to write a  “letter of guarantee” to say: “... if my mother in law [Saida Kurbanova] continues to pursue her activities in the organisation “Birdamlik”, my eighteen months old son Murodjon will be given to the authorities as a hostage.”
On 21 December 2012 Dzhahanov got this “guarantee” and closer to 17:00 the activists were released to go home.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia – AHRCA urges all interested individuals, organisations and the media to draw attention to the fate of Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboeva. Everything must be done to stop the acts of reprisals against human rights defender.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia – AHRCA considers that the actions of representatives of the government - the Deputy Chief of the Pahtakor Department of the Internal Affairs of Jizzakh Region, Major Akmal Dzhahanov and his subordinates, are illegal and contrary to the Constitution Uzbekistan and the obligations which Uzbekistan took under international agreements.

The AHRCA reported the reprisal against activists Saida Kurbanova and Nuriniso Kholboeva to:
—  UN Special Rapporteur on Torture,
— UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,
— EU,
— U.S. Department of State
— and international human rights organisations.



Uzbekistan: A prisoner swallowed nails as a sign of protest

The administration of prison UA [УЯ] 64/51, located in Kashkadarya region, introduced timetable of using the toilet, at all other times the room is locked. This innovation by the administration caused discomfort and physical suffering among prisoners.

On 3 December 2012 prisoner Kamoliddin Fakhriddinov, in the colony UA 64/51, swallowed nails in protest to the established order. For two days he remained without medical care. Only on the third day he was sent to the Hospital of the Republic for Prisoners UA 64/18 in Tashkent.

The prisoner Fakhriddinov sent several complaints to the Special Prosecutor. Kamoliddin Fakhriddinov took the above extreme measures because his letters were intercepted by the prison administration.

Kamoliddin Fahriddinov's destiny remains unknown since 6 December 2012. Representatives of the prison administration do not comment on the incident and do not allow the prisoners to discuss the problem caused by the new timetable of use of the toilet. 

Kamoliddin Fahriddinov does not have any relatives. His wife died some time ago, and since then, no one is visiting him.

Our organisation has learned that Kamoliddin Fakhriddinov was born in 1959, was convicted under Article 168 (fraud). It is not possible for us to find out the date of his arrest and the length of his prison sentence.

The Association "Human Rights in Central Asia" considers that the established timetable of use of toilet in the colony UA 64/51 amounts to cruel and degrading treatment. Actions taken by the administration of the colony UA 64/51 are contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the commitments made by this country by ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 7, 10, 19, 26), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Articles 2, 4, 12, 16) of the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of Any Form (Principles 1, 3, 6, 21).


Uzbekistan: Murad Djuraev is sentenced to another term of imprisonment of three years 24 days

Prisoner Murad Djuraev received another prison sentence of three years and 24 days. This is the fifth consecutive conviction added to his main term of imprisonment. His new conviction once again showed the desire of the authorities to deprive Murad Djuraev of the prospects of ever to be released. Urgent intervention of the international community is required.
Murad Djuraev was born in 1952 in the town of Mubarak of Kashkadarya region. He is ethnic Turkmen, married and has three children. He graduated from the Tashkent Polytechnic Institute.

Between 1989 and 1992 he worked as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City Council of the town of Mubarek. Between 1991-1992 he was a member of Parliament of Uzbekistan.

He was accused of conspiring with the leader of the opposition political party "Erk" Muhammad Salih. According to the authorities, they wanted to organise a violent seizure of power.

Murad Djuraev has been in prison sense 18 September 1994.

On 4 December 2012 at 19:00 in the town of Almalyk of Tashkent region the trial of political prisoner Murad Juraev took place. He was sentenced to three years and 24 days of imprisonment under Article 221 part 2, paragraph "b" of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan "Disobedience to lawful demands of the administration penal institutions." This is his fourth conviction under a similar article of the Criminal Code and the fifth addition to his main term of imprisonment. Characteristically, Murad Djuraev’s hearing was held on the eve of  publication of the decision of the Senate of Uzbekistan of the amnesty in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Uzbekistan.
Witnesses who were present at the hearing report that Murad Djuraev looked exhausted and skinny. He admitted that the only think that keeps him going is a sense of gratitude for his wife. All these years she consistently supports him and kept the same respect for him. Murad Djuraev admitted that he is ready to do everything possible to be free and with his wife.
  • The Hearing
Public hearing of the criminal case against Murad Djuraev was held at Almalyk town court, presided over by Judge M.O. Nigmanov, court clerk I.S. Odilov and the assistant of the special prosecutor of the city of Tashkent J.B. Makhmudov. Murad Djuraev did not have a legal representative. His relatives also did not attend.

The verdict in the criminal case № 1-554/12 described four episode which formed the basis for the Court to characterise the actions of Murad Djuraev as disobeying the lawful demands of the administration of prison УЯ 64/45 located near the town of Almalyk of Tashkent region.
          - On 8 September 2012 M. Djuraev went to the barracks (the sleeping room for the inmates - Ed.) wearing the shoes which he wears outdoors. Under the decision № 234 he was sentenced to 15 days in the punishment cell (room for temporary solitary confinement - Ed.)
          - On 22 June 2012 M. Juraev smoked outside the area assigned in accordance with fire regulations for this purpose. Under the decision № 961 he was sentenced to 2 months in the punishment cell.
          - On 12 May 2012 M. Juraev exchanged tea for tobacco. Under the decision №1591 he was sentenced to 15 days in the punishment cell.
         - On 5 November 2011 M. Juraev did not carry out the work of landscaping of the colony assigned to him. Under the decision №650 he was sentenced to 15 days in the punishment cell.
On 14 December 2012 Murad Juraev’s lawyer sent an appeal which presented an alleged Juraev’s version of the events. Of these alleged violations Juraev could only remember the case when the remark was made by the Administration on 8 September 2012. Then, he went to the barracks in the shoes which he uses instead of slippers. The Prison Administration officials did not want to listen to him and classified the event as a "violation" on the eve of a meeting with his wife. Of all other alleged cases of violation Juraev first heard during the trial. 
  • The Case of Murad Juraev
On 31 May 1995 Murad Juraev was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment to be served in a maximum security penal colony and confiscation of his property. On the basis of the amnesty, the sentence was reduced by three years.

Shortly before the end of his term on 27 July 2004 Juraev was convicted, on trumped-up charges under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan, " Disobedience to lawful demands of the administration penal institutions", to three more years in prison. The same thing happened on 27 July 2006, as his last term of the sentence was about to expire they added three year sentence under article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan. On 31 May 2009 under the same Article the sentence was again extended for three years and four months. Among other reasons, there is a punishment for the fact that he "improperly pilled carrots", while working in the kitchen.

On 13 November 2012 the fourth term of his imprisonment expired.

P.S. The AHRCA draws attention to the fact that the dates in this document are taken from the Judgments of the criminal case № 1-554/12 against Murad Juraev. In previous articles the AHRCA relied on dates recorded according to memory of Holbeka Juraeva (the wife).

The Association "Human Rights in Central Asia" (AHRCA) and Holbeka Djuraeva (the wife of Murat Juraev) strongly encourage all interested individuals, organisations and the media to draw attention to the case of Murad Djurayev and submit statements to the authorities of the Republic of Uzbekistan with an appeal for his release as soon as possible to the address listed below.

          • President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 53 25, E-mail:

         • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulaziz Kamilov, Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RU, pl. Mustakillik 5; 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17, E-mail:
          • Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Sayora Rashidova, ul. Xalqlar Dostligi 1, 700035 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 85 55, E-mail:
          • Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Buritosh Mustafaev, Verkhovny Sud Respubliki Uzbekistan, ul. Abdulla Kodiri 1, 700183 Tashkent; Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 144 62 93;
          • General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Rashidjon Kodirov, ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 133 39 17, E-mail:
          • National Centre for Human Rights, Senator Akmal Saidov Natsionalny, Tsentr po pravam cheloveka, Mustakillik Maidoni 5/3, 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 139 13 56/45 16, E-mail:
          • Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva, PO Box 1853, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 799 43 02, E-mail:

Previous publications on this case:
          - Press Release «Uzbekistan: Ailing political prisoner Murad Djuraev is again placed in solitary confinemen dated 14 October 2012;
          - Press Release «It is not possible to find out the location of political prisoner Murad Djuraev for the last four months» dated 17September 2009;


Uzbekistan: Free Political Prisoners on Constitution Day

Use Anniversary to Advance Real Reform

(Paris, December 6, 2012) – The Uzbek government should unconditionally release all of its political prisoners on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the country’s constitution on December 8, 2012, human rights groups said today. Freeing the country’s many political prisoners would demonstrate a genuine commitment to Uzbekistan’s much-touted reform process, the groups said.

The nine groups are Human Rights Watch, Freedom Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, the International Partnership for Human Rights, the International Association for Human Rights Defense “Fiery Hearts Club,” PEN American Center, ACAT-France, and the International Federation for Human Rights.

“Journalists, rights defenders, writers, and opposition and religious figures held solely on account of their peaceful activities shouldn’t be in prison in the first place,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Freeing political prisoners for Constitution Day is an opportunity for President Islam Karimov to show Uzbekistan’s people and international partners that he’s willing to take a genuine step toward reform.”

Uzbek authorities regularly announce an amnesty, potentially for thousands of prisoners, for Constitution Day. But those imprisoned on politically motivated charges are almost never released under these amnesties. Even if they are released, the amnesty’s terms leave the original unlawful convictions intact. The rights groups also called on Uzbekistan’s authorities to allow all prisoners access to necessary medical care and family visits to which they are entitled under international human rights law.

Human rights defenders in prison for no reason other than their legitimate human rights work include: Solijon Abdurakhmanov, Azam Formonov, Mehrinisso Hamdamova, Zulhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Holdarov, Nosim Isakov, Gaibullo Jalilov, Abdurasul Khudoinazarov, Erkin Kuziev, Ganihon Mamatkhanov, Zafarjon Rahimov, Yuldash Rasulov, Dilmurod Saidov, Akzam Turgunov, and Gulnaza Yuldasheva. The journalist Jamshid Karimov was reported to have been released in 2011 from a psychiatric ward where he was forcibly confined but has disappeared, prompting fears that he was detained again and is being held incommunicado.

Several are in serious ill-health and at least seven have suffered torture or ill-treatment in prison. United Nations (UN) bodies and a recent report by Human Rights Watch have found that torture and ill-treatment are systematic and widespread in places of detention. In one case, during an interrogation following the arrest of the activist Turgunov in 2008 on trumped-up charges, a police officer poured boiling water on Turgunov’s back when he refused to sign a false confession. He lost consciousness and suffered severe burns. Though Turgunov later revealed his burn marks in open court, the judge accepted as fact statements made by police that they had not tortured him.

Other prominent writers, intellectuals, and opposition figures in jail on politically motivated charges include: Isak Abdullaev, Azamat Azimov, Muhammad Bekjanov, Batyrbek Eshkuziev, Ruhiddin Fahruddinov, Khayrullo Hamidov, Bahrom Ibragimov, Murod Juraev, Davron Kabilov, Mamadali Karabaev, Matluba Karimova, Samandar Kukanov, Mamadali Mahmudov, Gayrat Mehliboev, Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Rustam Usmanov, Ravshanbek Vafoev, and Akram Yuldashev.

In addition, the Uzbek government has imprisoned thousands of independent Muslims and other religious believers who practice their faith outside state controls or who belong to unregistered religious organizations on overly broad and vague charges of so-called “religious extremism,” “attempts to overthrow the constitutional order,” and possession of  “illegal religious literature.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recently found that the Uzbek government’s practice of punishing its citizens for exercising fundamental rights of free expression is a violation of its international obligations.

“International law and Uzbekistan’s own constitution demand respect for human rights, such as free expression, association, assembly, and belief,” said Patrick Griffith, an attorney with Freedom Now. “For the constitution to have any meaning the government must immediately release all those who have been imprisoned for exercising these fundamental rights.”

Each year, in connection with Uzbekistan’s national independence and Constitution Day celebrations, several thousand prisoners are released under amnesties. The amnesties are usually reserved for those convicted of less serious offenses and for specific demographic categories such as teenagers, women, and prisoners over age 60. Prison directors have wide discretion over who to release. Political prisoners are denied amnesty year after year for alleged infractions of internal prison regulations. Infractions used as a basis for denying amnesty have included saying prayers and wearing a white shirt.

Authorities also extend the prison sentences of imprisoned rights activists, journalists, political opposition figures, and thousands of individuals serving sentences for “religious extremism” for alleged violations of prison regulations. Such extensions occur without due process and can add years to a prisoner’s sentence.

“The illegal extension of sentences for political prisoners, some of whom have been behind bars for well over a decade, shows the particular cruelty of Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system,” said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. “Several of these men, such as Makhmadali Makhmudov, Murod Juraev, and Solijon Abdurakhmanov, are elderly and in ill-health. Continuously extending their sentences effectively condemns them to die behind bars.”

At the end of January, just days before his 13-year prison sentence was set to expire, authorities gave  Bekjanov, former editor of the political opposition newspaper Erk, an additional five-year sentence for alleged violations of internal prison rules. Bekjanov has been jailed since 1999. He and Ruzimuradov have been imprisoned longer than any other reporter worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

While Uzbek authorities have released a few human rights defenders over the last several years, the pace of releases has slowed since the EU and the US moved to normalize ties with Uzbekistan, lifting sanctions in 2009 and 2012 respectively, seeking to secure the Uzbek government’s cooperation on the war in Afghanistan.

In addition to a campaign of harassment and intimidation of civil society activists, Uzbek authorities also imprisoned at least two more rights activists this year: Kuziev, a member of the human rights organization Ezgulik (“Compassion”) and Yuldasheva, a member of the Initiative Group of Human Rights Defenders. Yuldasheva, just 26 years old, was sentenced in July to seven years on trumped-up fraud charges for investigating alleged police involvement in human trafficking.

“The ongoing harassment of civil society and recent sentencing of more rights activists to prison show that Tashkent is clearly not feeling enough pressure from the US, EU, or other key players to change its behavior,” said Artak Kirakosyan, general secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights. “Uzbekistan’s civil society and its people are in dire need of a stronger voice from Washington, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and other capitals in defense of their human rights.”

While the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)  has access to Uzbekistan’s prisons and detention centers, its work is confidential and the Uzbek government prevents public scrutiny of its prisons by local civil society and journalists, international nongovernmental organizations, and reporters. For the past decade, it has denied access to all 11 UN special monitors who have requested invitations – including the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders – and has failed to comply with recommendations by various expert bodies. The government has forced many international organizations and media outlets to leave Uzbekistan, and in March 2011, Uzbek authorities forced Human Rights Watch to close its Tashkent office. The government denies registration to local independent human rights groups.

In November, Uzbek prison officials tried to prevent an ICRC delegation from visiting with Abdurakhmanov, the imprisoned journalist whom authorities had hidden from ICRC for months, the independent Uznews.net news site reported. On one previous ICRC visit to prison camp No. 64/61, Abdurakhmanov was driven out of the prison and hidden from inspectors. On this occasion, Abdurakhmanov’s son told the news site that prison officials brought an impostor to meet with the ICRC delegation, who quickly established that he was not Abdurakhmanov.

Both Uzbek law and international law require prison authorities to provide basic necessities to all prisoners, to allow them regular visits – including personal visits by family members – and to treat them with dignity and respect. The Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibit inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Uzbekistan is a party to both treaties. Uzbek authorities should order an immediate investigation of all allegations of mistreatment of prisoners held on politically motivated charges, and also allow for re-examination of the closed hearings in which political prisoners’ sentences have been extended, the rights groups said.

“Rather than placing activists under house arrest and suppressing peaceful attempts to protest, President Karimov should commemorate Constitution Day by honoring the constitution’s principles and fulfilling Uzbekistan’s international human rights commitments,” said Mutabar Tadjibaeva, former political prisoner and president of the “Fiery Hearts Club.” “Uzbekistan’s rights defenders, journalists, opposition and religious figures have suffered long enough.”

To read the Human Rights Watch Report, “No One Left to Witness,” please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Uzbekistan’s crackdown on civil society, journalists, and human rights defenders, please visit: “Uzbekistan: Activist Free but Crackdown Widening”:

“Uzbekistan: Government Shuts Down Human Rights Watch Office”:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Uzbekistan, please visit: